You Are God's Beloved, and His Desire is for You.

A forest preserve in Michigan near the festival.

A forest preserve in Michigan near the festival.

You are God’s beloved and his desire is for you.

I was in the sanctuary of a small church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I had been invited to a pre-conference retreat by Tammy Perlmutter, a friend I met on the internet. At the Festival of Faith and Writing, the three-day writing conference we would be attending that weekend, there would be over 2,000 attendees - which is a smaller gathering than some churches in Dallas, but still a lot of people for an introvert.

There were about 40 people came to the retreat, many of whom I’d met online. It was exciting to see all of their faces in real life instead of a square profile picture. Several people commented, “I didn’t expect you to be so tall.”

I was nervous. Would I fit in? Did everyone else already know each other? Was my writing good enough? Did I deserve to be there?

For four hours, we talked, wrote, and meditated on these questions and the insecurities we were all facing in our work and relationships. I was glad to be reminded that I wasn’t alone in my fear.

During the final session, we were given 20 minutes of silence to meditate, write, pray - whatever we needed. I laid on the floor, looking up at the steel beams, painted white, and thanked God for bringing me there. Then we all gathered in chairs at the front of the church in 3 long rows. Tammy and Ed Cyzewski went around to each person and spoke these words to each of us.

Miah, you are God’s beloved, and his desire is for you.

A blessing almost physically set upon me, peace poured over my head.

Words used well are a gift and a blessing. They can change lives. I’m grateful to be part of this sacred work.